The Fish Carburetor
The legendary Fish Carburetor has a firm place in auto history. It is the story of an inventor battling tall odds to bring an innovative product to the market.
Our reference library contains a copy of an information package promoting the Fish Carburetor. John Robert Fish, who died in 1958, appears to have authored the first section. An article written in 1958, "How Good Is the Fish Carburetor?" by John Drako of Auto Age is next, followed by 26 pages of specifications and drawings.
In the brochure, Fish, stated that he was working on a self-feeder for the carburetor when he realized the difficulty to get from 25.6 mpg to 32 mpg meant using every wasted drop of gasoline. This realization led him to abandon the self-feeder and go in a new direction.
"I produced a brand new departure.
Although it only took six words to tell you that, 600,000 cold hard dollars and twenty tough years went into doing it.
Vicissitudes and tribulations seemed endless. I spent years perfecting a model only to learn how to better it. Over those awful years I designed, made and exhaustively tested many carburetors. Paralleling these difficulties were countless catastrophes of quite another nature. I even had to fight the U.S. Navy over patents! R.F.C. tried to throw me into bankruptcy. It took over $10,000 and the Chandler Act to stop that move. I was sabotaged all over the place and by the most surprising sources.
Once I went to see Henry Ford. In fact, Cadillac, Packard, Chrysler, Hudson - all of them. The engineers like my carburetor; suggested that I make a commercial model. It looked good! So I made a commercial model and it outperformed standard carburetors by 34%. Then came the incredible demands.
I was told that before adoption, my carburetor must be thoroughly proved in actual practical use under all climatic conditions through the earth. I must have universal service facilities and a proved and dependable source of supply.
The replacement market was all that was left so I went after it. Concentrating on carburetor and car dealers, I mailed them testimonials from prominent automotive people. I was really rolling when a carburetor manufacturer notified his dealers that taking on a new carburetor would cost them their franchises.
Federal Trade Commission vetoed this. One carburetor manufacturer then said that it had too many dealers, some would be discontinued, loyalty to the line would determine which. Car manufacturers told dealers that if they didn't like the line "as is" something would be done about it, not good either. Then came the big barrage. S.E.C. jumped me. Department of Public Utilities got after me. Postal Inspectors invesitigated me and the Post Office Department made a grand slam. My house was full of cops. I mean full. Hometown cops and cops from far and wide. But I kept right on percolating.
Conventional channels thus closed, I created a nationwide organization wherein hundreds of people prepaid for sample carburetors at a price financing production tooling and manufacture of the samples.
Production tools were developed and production samples delivered. The members uncovered bugs and the bugs were eliminated. While this sounds easy, it took many years, much sweat and a lot of money."
The article goes on to say that the organization was growing behind a tried and proven carburetor, the M-1 which produced amazing performance from a simple design. The M-1 had 17 parts, three of which were moving parts.
Using high fuel metering differential pressure to produce perfect distribution, the carburetor was unaffected by the sway of the road, stopping and starting, hard turns and bumpy highways. The high mileage, stall-proof carburetor had 100% combustion, faster acceleration, higher top speeds and smoother operation.
The M-1 Carburetor was suitable for just about any vehicle, from small sport cars to family cars, buses, trucks and marine engines.
These assertions were followed by several testimonials from M-1 owners who bragged that they got 35-38 mpg, and required virtually no maintenance.
The next section of the brochure included a reprint of a "vintage" article, "How Good Is the Fish Carburetor?" by John Drako of Auto Age.
Drako began by calling the Fish Carburetor controversial. He and a friend, George Willy of Willy's Carburetor in Blue Island, Illinois ran a five-week, night and day, series of tests on the Fish Carburetor. Their original testing indicated that they could either get high-mileage or lots of pep, but not both. They were so astounded by the product that they went to the Fish factory in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Here they found a dedicated group of professionals: Ray Fox, voted top mechanic in NASCAR in 1956, Red "Pappy Vogt, chief mechanic, who worked at Indianapolis Brickyard and was in charge of the "famed stable of Kiekhaefer stable of might Chrysler 300s," "Doc" Davis, a graduate engineer from Georgia Tech and Bob Fish, Jr. In addition to the Fish Carburetor, the company was also working on an advance mileage tester for the Studebaker Corporation.
Drako and Willy were able to examine Fish's newest carburetor, the M3 model. This model used a choke cable, which was controlled from the instrument panel. Instead of a typical butterfly-valve choke, it enriched the fuel-air mixture. A fast idle cam and a heating coil in the float chamber were also used to ensure almost perfect combustion.
Drako had installed Fish BM2 carburetors in his Dodge and Crosley-engine sportster and was very pleased with the results. He recommended the Fish for better performance and greater economy.
Drako could envision the Fish type of carburetor becoming a standard feature on cars, making "the extreme complication of today's multi-barrel jobs a thing of the past." He said the plant also had working models of a carburetor and intake manifold cast as a single unit, "the ultimate in fuel-feed design." Another magnesium carburetor was designed for a one-man helicopter engine and weighed only ounces, according to Drako.
Finally, on page 21, the brochure gets to specifics:
VIII HOW THE FISH CARBURETOR WORKS
There are four systems in the Fish Carburetor designed to deliver better fuel economy.
Fuel metering groove in the bottom of the float chamber, .0028 in diameter at idle and gradually increasing to .078 at full throttle. Somewhat similar to metering rods in standard carburetor but far more precise.
Needle valve adjustment at the top of the fuel pick-up arm. Very similar to those on the old farm tractors. It is this adjustment that allows you to go from gasoline to alcohol and back in 30 seconds.
Three air intakes in the top of the throttle shaft. Air mixes with fuel in the shaft and exits down the venturi tube with a vortex effect. Standard carburetors, at part throttle, dump most of the fuel and air down one side of the throttle plate, necessitating multiple barrel carburetors and cross-over intake manifold plenums for V-8 engines.
Throttle valve angle is adjustable via an allenhead screw for maximum cruising range efficiency. Air flow as well as fuel metering is adjustable.
Because of the foregoing feature this carburetor can be adjusted for utilization of farmer's alcohol, altitude, performance, economy, and a host of other considerations: like running your vehicle on diesel fuel or used parts cleaner in a tight spot.
Ford truck owners: If you are getting less than 12 mpg from a Ford truck, the odds are that we can give you a 50% fuel economy improvement. For reason known only to Ford, their trucks almost always leave the factory with defective carburetors. Ironically, a Ford engine will last almost forever with a carburetor that doesn't dump excess fuel into the engine, causing carbon buildup. Like ours.
The next two pages show every part of the Fish Carburetor. Following this are sections titled: What Every Part Is For, Installation Tips, Adapter Plates, Tools, Installation and Adjusting Instructions, Starting, Trouble Shooting, Replacement Parts, High Thermal Expansion Gasoline Engine, and Will the Fish Carburetor Work on Your Vehicle?
The brochure copy we have appears to have been written in the late 1960s. It states that the Fish Carburetor Corporation folded in 1959, the year after John Robert Fish passed away.
A new manufacturer of the Fish Carburetor apparently produced the brochure. For some reason they are not named but there are a few pages missing in our copy. Perhaps they were not deemed to be essential to the story.
The new Fish Carburetor organization was looking for dealers and promoting some new projects: Racing carburetors with a 2 inch bore, a V-8 to V-4 adapter plate for two Fish carburetors, and a steam engine and a steam car. The author stated that their high thermal expansion gasoline engine was already in operation and delivering 60 mpg in a 1600c Volkswagen.
We gained our brochure copy and photo during a trip to Ohio where our late curator, John Dudley, met a fellow who had an original Fish Carburetor. Stories that we have heard include Fish Carburetors being stolen off cars and others being replaced, without authorization, when taken in to the dealer for service, on the orders of unknown nefarious competitors.
If you search on the internet, you will find some additional information on the Fish Carburetor, including the web site of the current manufacturer.
Roaring Twenties Antique Car Museum copyr. 2000 - 2010
Roaring Twenties copyr. 2000 - 2010